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Media Coverage: Wilbur Ross says he's 'open to resuming' talks on mega-trade deal with Europe

May 30, 2017

After a series of angry tweets from President Donald Trump directed toward Germany over trade, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC on Tuesday he is open to continuing talks on a proposed trade pact with the European Union.

[Lori Ann LaRocco | May 30th, 2017 | CNBC]

After a series of angry tweets from President Donald Trump directed toward Germany over trade, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC on Tuesday he is open to continuing talks on a proposed trade pact with the European Union.

"It's no mistake that, while we withdrew from TPP" — the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact with Pacific Rim nations — "we did not withdraw from TTIP," Ross said.

Talks around the proposed Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership were put on hold following Trump's election last year.

"The EU is one of our largest trading partners, and any negotiations legally must be conducted at the EU level and not with individual nations," Ross said. "Thus, it makes sense to continue TTIP negotiations and to work towards a solution that increases overall trade while reducing our trade deficit."

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the U.S. trade deficit with the EU in 2016 stood at $146.3 billion. So far in 2017, that deficit is at $32.1 billion.

Secretary Ross's comments come less than a week after his meeting with German Economic Minister Brigitte Zypries, who told a German newspaper, "It is not likely the U.S. will resume negotiations over TTIP."

CNBC has obtained copies of trade deficit data that was given to Commerce Secretary Ross by the Coalition for Prosperous America, an anti-free trade think tank, which purports to show the trade deficit the United States has with Germany and with the EU overall.

The Coalition, which takes credit on its website for killing the Trans-Pacific Partnership, says that its mission is "to fight for balanced trade and to protect U.S. sovereignty."

"Germany's 2016 current account surplus was the biggest in the world in relation to its GDP at 8.5 percent. China's was 3 percent," said Michael Stumo, president of the think tank. "Germany overproduces and underconsumes. This means they have an excessive savings rate (27.8 percent) and free ride off the U.S. and other [countries'] consumers to drive their growth."

The TTIP was the focus of widespread public oppositionin Germany and elsewhere in Europe last year.


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  • What happened to the smart, bi-lateral trade agreement approach? Mega deals that end up containing untold numbers of compromises and giveaways that are in the interests of foreign relations and not American workers? More of the same old crap?